Billboard Bits: Diplomats, W. Panic, Vassar/Lewis

Stories on the first album from rapc act the Diplomats, Widespread Panic's John Bell hosts a charity golf tournament and concert, and country artist Phil Vassar and Huey Lewis record together.

Cam'ronThe Diplomats, a rap act comprised of Cam'ron, Jimmy Jones, Freekey Zekey, and Juelz Santana, is working on its debut album. Tentatively titled "Diplomatic Immunity," the set is expected out March 4 via Cam'ron's own Diplomat Records. The first single is a remake of Starship's "We Built This City" with "hard-edged, hip-hop harmonies." The original song was a No. 1 hit on The Billboard Hot 100 in 1985.

The Diplomats were first showcased on Cam'ron's "Come Home With Me." Released in May, the Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam set was recently certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for U.S. shipments of 1 million copies. The album topped Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Widespread PanicWidespread Panic singer/guitarist John Bell will host the fourth annual Hannah's Buddies Charity Classic and FightSMA Benefit Bash. The Jan. 18 event in Orlando, Fla., will raise money for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) research through a golf tournament at Disney World's Lake Buena Vista Golf Club and a dinner/silent auction at the House of Blues that will be capped by an acoustic concert by Robert Randolph and his Family Band, as well as performances by Bell "and friends."

"It's a serious cause, but it's a lot of fun, too," Bell said in a statement. "Hannah [Elliott, the charity's namesake] and her friends are wonderful ambassadors of the SMA effort. It's impossible not to be touched by them."

Since its inception in 2000, the event has raised more than $300,000 to help fund the research efforts worldwide. For more information on sponsorship or to inquire about participating, contact Duncan Elliott at 813-334-5877 or Tickets to the concert are available via Ticketmaster.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Phil VassarFollowing a spontaneous Dec. 8 onstage jam at the Joint in the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas, country artist Phil Vassar and Huey Lewis hooked up recently to record a new version of the latter's early 1980s single "Workin' for a Livin'." The duo recorded the song at Sin City's Studio 7, a recording studio owned by NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham.

"It was so amazing," Vassar said in a statement. "I've been doing the song in concert for so long now, and we had a perfect opportunity to hook up with Huey's schedule, so we grabbed him! He was awesome!"

It is unknown where the cut will surface, but Vassar is likely to continue performing the song on the road. After a brief break for Christmas, he'll pick up his tour again Dec. 27 in Mobile, Ala.,

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.


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